Gov. Jerry Brown seeks $437 million for flood control

In 2005 four environmental groups, including the Sierra Club California, filed a federal motion to have the Oroville Emergency Spillway reinforced with concrete, fearing if it were used, it would erode the hillside which supports it, cause mass flooding and lead to large scale evacuations.

"We have many issues", Brown said of state government. Jerry Brown announced Friday that he wants to accelerate spending on dam safety, flood protection and aging transportation infrastructure.

Brown declared that “Our aging infrastructure is maxed-out” and that “Recent storms have pounded resulted in a dam spillway eroding, roads crumbling and levees failing, ” he said.

Brown, who was criticized for not immediately visiting the dam in wake of the February 11 evacuations, deflected claims that the state mismanaged the Lake Oroville emergency.

"Today, with more unmet needs building up, I take a more expansive view when it comes to building this infrastructure", he said.

"In general, we have a very expert department of water resources". $50 billion in flood management, $59 billion in deferred highway maintenance and $78 billion in local street and road maintenance.

"It could be a whole combination of things", Croyle said.

"These liabilities are a serious cloud, and we have to take them seriously", Brown said.

Even so, Brown admitted the new effort is only a small down payment on the state's infrastructure to-do list.

Long term, the governor says California's about $187 billion behind on its infrastructure needs across the state. Last month's spending plan proposes nearly $1.3 billion in natural resources bond sales through December 2017. After more than 18 months of failed special-session negotiations, Democrats want to phase in a 12-cent tax increase on gasoline and raise vehicle registration fees to rebuild the state's highways. "It's one of the best in the country", Brown said.

Also Friday, Brown announced that the Trump administration has approved a request to issue a disaster declaration, making California eligible for federal funds to fix Oroville Dam and respond to other problems caused by heavy storms.

In classic Brown fashion, the governor maneuvered the press conference through a variety of topics.

Friday morning, the Governor submitted requests for more federal funding to members of the Trump administration in regard to ten specific projects, including high speed rail and improvements to the Oroville Dam. He said the recent rains, which have pulled much of California out of drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, are indicative of California's changing climate.

"We got to belly up to the bar and start spending", he added.

  • Salvatore Jensen